What is the ICD?

By David Joel Miller.

International Classification of Diseases by the WHO.

What is? Series

What is the ICD?
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

The ICD stands for the International Classification of Diseases, a compilation by the World Health Organization of the various diseases and disorders that might be diagnosed. The ICD has undergone a number of updates and revisions. Currently, we in the U. S. are using the ICD-10. The ICD-11 is expected to be available for implementation by October of 2018.

The ICD includes a large number of diseases that are outside the scope of practice of mental health professionals. In the U. S. mental health professionals are used to using the DSM (see the post on the DSM.) What tends to get overlooked is that while the descriptions in the DSM come from the APA (American Psychiatric Association) the numbers in the DSM are from the ICD. This resulted in the most recent DSM, the DSM-5 including two sets of numbers, those from the older ICD-9 and the newer numbers from the ICD-10.

Under the ICD-10 system, each specialty has a letter followed by numbers for each disease or disorder.

Using the new numbers all mental, emotional and behavioral disorders a counselor might expect to treat will begin with the letter F while the other life issues, like partner relational conflict, will all be prefaced with the letter Z. Beyond that, there are very few issues a counselor might treat.

The early ICD’s were mainly a list of causes of death prior to the issuance of the ICD-6. Starting with the ICD-6 in 1949 causes of illnesses were included along with causes of death.

By 1975 the WHO had reached version ICD-9 and in 1978 the ICD-9-CM (clinical modification.) The rest of the world adopted the ICD-10 in 1990 but the U. S. delayed adoption until October of 2015. Any treatment that is reimbursable under HIPAA covered insurance must use the ICD-10-CM.

The ICD-11 is expected to be released in 2018. When the U. S. will adopt the ICD-11, who will use it and what they will use it for remains to be seen.

FYI These “What is” sometimes “What are” posts are my efforts to explain terms commonly used in Mental Health, Clinical Counseling, Substance Use Disorder Counseling, Psychology, Life Coaching and related disciplines in a plain language way. Many are based on the new DSM-5; some of the older counselorssoapbox.com posts were based on the DSM-IV-TR, both published by the APA. For the more technical versions please consult the DSM or other appropriate references.

See Recommended Books.     More “What is” posts will be found at “What is.”

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For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse and Co-occurring disorders see the about the author page. For information about my other writing work beyond this blog check out my Google+ page or the Facebook author’s page, up under David Joel Miller. Posts to the “books, trainings and classes” category will tell you about those activities. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books


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